Photo by Marc Cooper
When you ask anyone what their first thoughts of California, especially Los Angeles, are, they instantly respond, “Beaches.” They are exactly right: beaches are a very predominant part of Southern Californian culture. Although Malibu Beach is one of the first beaches that pop onto a tourist itinerary, locals recommend a variety of other beaches that are less populated and more picturesque. Below are the top 10 beaches recommended by Los Angeles locals.
1. Zuma Beach
Zuma appeals to both locals and tourists with just the natural beauty alone, and it is topped by a scenic drive to the final destination. It is one of the most pristine beaches in Malibu, with only a few buildings that can be seen from the shore. This is the perfect place to sunbathe, read a book, catch a wave, and more. Make sure to keep your eyes out for dolphins here!
- Name: Zuma Beach
- Address: 30050 Pacific Coast Hwy Malibu, CA 90265
- Website: http://beaches.lacounty.gov/wps/portal/dbh/home/detail/?current=true&urile=wcm:path:/dbh+content/dbh+site/home/home+detail/zuma+beach+1
2. Manhattan Beach (The Strand)
Locals love to stroll along or bike along the Strand, especially to enjoy the sunset. The pier, which is considered to be one of the best in the South Bay, is especially beautiful when observing it from the Strand. There are some businesses that line the street, including Manhattan Beach Post, The Strandhouse, and Manhattan Beach Creamery. When you get to the end of the pier, be sure to visit the aquarium at the very end.
- Name: Manhattan Beach
- Address: 2 Manhattan Beach Blvd Manhattan Beach, CA 90266
3. Malibu Lagoon
Filled with tide pools at low tide, Malibu Lagoon is a perfect destination for a family outing. The beach is small and secluded, and there are many local surfers looking to catch a wave here as well.
- Name: Malibu Lagoon State Park
- Address: 23200 Pacific Coast Hwy & Cross Creek Rd
- Opening hour: 8AM-sunset
- Website: http://www.parks.ca.gov/?page_id=835
4. Venice Beach
Venice Beach is very much on-the-beaten path, but it is a must-see when one is pursuing beaches in Los Angeles. It is definitely recommended to spend a whole day here without feeling rushed, as there’s an incredible amount to do in between the Boardwalk, exciting beach bars and restaurants, and the beach itself. Be sure to make time for people watching, as there are unique people from all over the world to perform along Venice Beach. If you are there on Sunday, check out the drum circles!
- Name: Venice Beach
- Address: Ocean Front Walk, Los Angeles, CA 90291
- Price: $3-$10/day for parking
- Website: http://venicebeach.com
5. Point Dume State Beach
Point Dume State Beach is another beach considered to be slightly off-the-beaten tourist path. Point Dume is exquisite as it is one of the few beaches where one can go sea lion and dolphin watching, although sea lions are more commonly spotted. The hike that leads up to the cliff is short and accessible to all, providing ample views of the endless Pacific Ocean.
- Name: Point Dume State Beach
- Address: Cliffside Dr, Malibu, CA 90265
- Opening hour: Sunrise – sunset
- Website: http://www.parks.ca.gov/?page_id=623
6. El Matador State Beach
If one of your itinerary items is to stroll along the beach in Los Angeles, this is the place to do it. Filled with rock formations that are picture perfect, El Matador State Beach also has opportunities for cave and tide pool exploring. The stairs down to the beach is currently a bit washed down, so be cautious of your steps.
- Name: El Matador Beach
- Address: 32350 El Matador Beach Rd, Malibu, CA 90265
- Price: Fee for parking
- Opening hour: 8AM- sunset
- Website: http://www.lamountains.com/parks.asp?parkid=145
7. Abalone Cove
Abalone Cove is not really for surfing, but instead, it offers viewings of a diverse tide pool ecosystem, especially when the tide is low. When tides are low, make sure to bring either water shoes or good walking shoes, as it is easy to access caves and other places along the mountainside. If you are seeking a combination of outdoors and a fresh ocean breeze, this is the place to go.
- Name: Abalone Cove
- Address: 5970 Palos Verdes Dr S, Rancho Palos Verdes, CA 90275
- Price: $6/hr for parking
- Opening hour: 9am-dusk
- Website: http://pvplc.org/_lands/abalone_cove.asp
8. Hermosa Beach
Famous as a local hangout spot, Hermosa Beach is notorious for spotting hipsters and getting away from tourists. Additionally, it is also a beautiful place to enjoy a book, play volleyball, and sunbathe. A few years ago, Hermosa Beach was known as a sleepy, surf community, but now, it is the perfect beach for post-meal or post-dinner plans. Many local restaurants and shops border Hermosa Beach, which makes it a popular destination for locals.
- Name: Hermosa Beach
- Address: Pier Ave, Hermosa Beach, CA 90254
- Price: Free
9. Will Rogers State Beach
Less crowded than most of the beaches in Santa Monica and Venice, Will Rogers State Beach is popular with surfers due to good waves and easy access. Unlike Santa Monica, where one has to walk a quarter of the mile on hot sand, accessing the beach is a short distance from the parking lot. Surfing aside, locals recommend bringing a bike or rollerblades to cruise past multi-million dollar homes. If you go on a weekday, it is very likely that you may see a film crew for an upcoming TV show or movie.
- Name: Will Rogers State Park
- Address: 1501 Will Rogers State Park Rd, Pacific Palisades, CA 90272
- Price: $12 for parking
- Opening hour: 8AM-sunset
- Website: http://www.parks.ca.gov/?page_id=626
10. Leo Carrillo State Beach
Leo Carrillo is one of the most picturesque, yet lesser known, beaches in the Los Angeles area. There are tide pools, caves, and cliffs to explore when you feel like taking a break from surfing. Campsites can also be reserved if one feels like getting away from the business of Downtown Los Angeles. Bring your dog if you have one! When you are there, you may recognize the beach as the setting for hit moves, such as Grease and Inception.
- Name: Leo Carrillo State Beach
- Address: 35000 Pacific Coast Hwy, Malibu, CA 90265
- Opening hour: 8AM-10PM
- Website: http://www.parks.ca.gov/?page_id=616
With so many beaches to choose from in the Los Angeles area, it is truly hard to go wrong. However, in order to avoid large crowds and to get a authentic local experience, make sure you visit at least one of the 10 beaches listed here.
Have a good trip and travel!